Tag Archives: Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan: Activists targeted by ‘government-sponsored’ cyber attack

March 10, 2017

Azeri human rights activists, journalists and political dissidents have been the targets of a fraudulent and sustained ‘spear phishing’ campaign using emails and Facebook chat, apparently aimed at gaining access to their personal information and private communications, said Amnesty International in a new report launched today.

The investigation reveals that the attacks, which can compromise passwords and contacts, have been directed at various government critics for the past 13 months. Victims told Amnesty International they believed the Azerbaijani authorities are behind the attacks.

“Our research reveals that a targeted and coordinated cyber campaign is being waged against critical voices in Azerbaijan, many of whom are long-time victims of government repression,” said Claudio Guarnieri, Senior Technologist at Amnesty International.

“The malware used has been designed with the express intention of gathering as much private information as possible about a target. Given the profiles of those targeted, it is not hard to see why victims believe the authorities are responsible.”

One victim was the lawyer and human rights activist Rasul Jafarov, who was alerted to the attack when he received a phone call from a colleague in October 2016 warning him that he had been sent an email and attachment from an address very similar to his.

A former Amnesty International prisoner of conscience, Rasul Jafarov has previously spent more than a year and a half in prison on trumped-up, politically motivated charges stemming from his human rights work.

He told Amnesty International: “I believe that [the Azerbaijani authorities] are trying to closely watch everyone who is criticizing the government, who is implementing different activities, or projects or campaigns which the government doesn’t like.”

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/03/azerbaijan-activists-targeted-by-government-sponsored-cyber-attack/

Azerbaijan: The Law Society of Upper Canada expresses grave concern about the harassment of lawyer Elchin Sadigov in Azerbaijan

January 30, 2017

The Law Society of Upper Canada

The Law Society of Upper Canada* expresses grave concern about the harassment of lawyer Elchin Sadigov in Azerbaijan.

Elchin Sadigov is a prominent criminal lawyer in Azerbaijan whose clients include several prisoners of conscience and other individuals who have faced politically motivated charges.

It has come to our attention that on November 2, 2016, Elchin Sadigov was threatened by an investigator from the Main Organized Crime Department (MOCD) of the Ministry of the Interior after he disclosed, in an interview, information about the alleged torture of his client, journalist Fikret Farmazoglu, by MOCD staff. Fikret Farmazoglu is currently detained at the MOCD. Reports indicate that the investigator told Elchin Sadigov that he would “pay a high price” for accusing the MOCD of torture.

Since the November 2, 2016 incident, Elchin Sadigov and his family have faced additional harassment and intimidation, including a media article accusing Elchin Sadigov of having an affair with Fikret Farmazoglu’s wife, the hacking of his Facebook page and the creation of fake accounts using his name. In addition, police interrogated Elchin Sadigov’s brother and asked for information about Elchin Sadigov’s wife and children. It is our understanding that police later told Elchin Sadigov that they had received a request to collect data about him and his family, but declined to disclose the reasons.

The Law Society is deeply concerned about Elchin Sadigov’s case. Reports indicate that there have been a growing number of cases of harassment, intimidation and persecution of human rights defenders and human rights lawyers by Azerbaijani authorities in recent years. We believe strongly that lawyers should be able to exercise their legitimate duties without fear for their lives, for their liberty and for their security.

http://www.lsuc.on.ca/newsarchives.aspx?id=2147485737&cid=2147503473&langtype=1033

http://www.lsuc.on.ca/newsarchives.aspx?id=2147485737&cid=2147503473 (FRANCAIS)

Azerbaijan: ICJ intervenes before European Court of Human Rights in defence of human rights lawyers

November 8, 2016

The ICJ intervened today before the European Court of Human Rights in the cases of three human rights lawyers who had been denied Bar membership because of their human rights activity.

The cases concern the compliance of the procedures of admission to and disbarment from the Bar Association of Azerbaijan of human rights lawyers Annagi Hajibeyli, Khalid Bagirov and Intigam Aliyev.

In its submissions, the ICJ stressed that, while lawyers have to perform their professional functions in conformity with ethical standards, the legal profession’s systems of admission and discipline must not enforce such obligations in a way that impairs the exercise of human rights by lawyers or their capacity to effectively represent their clients.

Based on the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights, as well as international standards governing the legal profession, the ICJ submission addresses:

Azerbaijan: ICJ intervenes before European Court of Human Rights in defence of human rights lawyers

Azerbaijan: the independence and role of lawyers must be respected, ICJ report says

http://humanrightshouse.org/Articles/21864.html

http://unpo.org/article/18928

http://www.amnestyusa.org/get-involved/take-action-now/take-action-end-harassment-of-human-rights-lawyer-and-family-azerbaijan-ua-25216

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intiqam_Aliyev

Azerbaijan: Harassed, Imprisoned, Exiled Azerbaijan’s Continuing Crackdown on Government Critics, Lawyers, and Civil Society

October 20, 2016

Human Rights Watch

The government of Azerbaijan continues to wage a vicious crackdown on critics and dissenting voices. The space for independent activism, critical journalism, and opposition political activity has been virtually extinguished by the arrests and convictions of many activists, human rights defenders, and journalists, as well as by laws and regulations restricting the activities of independent groups and their ability to secure funding. Independent civil society in Azerbaijan is struggling to survive.

However, even as the government released some activists, bloggers, and journalists, authorities have arrested many others on spurious criminal and administrative charges to prevent them from carrying out their legitimate work. None of those released had their convictions vacated, several face travel restrictions, others left the country fearing further politically motivated persecution, or had to halt their work due to almost insurmountable bureaucratic hurdles hampering their access to funding. Authorities have also harassed the relatives of those attempting to carry out their activism from abroad, in some cases by bringing criminal charges against them. Numerous lawyers representing government critics in legal proceedings have been disbarred on questionable grounds, apparently to prevent them from carrying out their work.

https://www.hrw.org/report/2016/10/20/harassed-imprisoned-exiled/azerbaijans-continuing-crackdown-government-critics

Azerbaijan: End of mission statement by Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders

September 22, 2016

This is my first visit to Azerbaijan, a country that has undergone significant changes over the past decades and that faces many geopolitical challenges. Let me begin by warmly thanking the Government of Azerbaijan for inviting me and for its cooperation throughout this visit. The objective of my visit was to assess, in the spirit of cooperation and dialogue, the environment in which human rights defenders and civil society operate in the country.

In Azerbaijan, human rights lawyers increasingly face challenges through a number of means, including criminal prosecutions, disciplinary action, and other administrative measures. This is despite the State’s obligation to guarantee that lawyers can discharge their professional duties and functions and their rights are protected. In my view, disbarments of human rights lawyers, together with criminal prosecutions, searches and freezing of their assets are part of the broader harassment facing human rights defenders in the country. The well-known cases of Intigam Aliyev, Aslan Ismayilov and Alaif Hasanov demonstrate the intimidation of independent lawyers through detention and lawsuits. The removal of lawyers from sensitive cases and holding them as a witness in the same case was used against Yalcin Imanov, for example, when he was defending employees of Radio Azadliq/Liberty in December 2014. 

For those lawyers who are members of the bar association, disciplinary proceedings have been one of the main means of retaliation for their human rights or professional activities. I have reviewed the cases of at least four lawyers (Khalid Bagirov, Muzaffar Bakhsiyev, Alaif Hasanov and Aslan Ismayilov), who have been unjustifiably disbarred from the Bar Association. This is despite the fact that, in practice, the Bar Association suffers from significant institutional weaknesses, which raise serious questions about its legitimacy and puts the ability of the body to effectively regulate the profession in severe doubt.

https://www.protecting-defenders.org/en/news/end-mission-statement-special-rapporteur-situation-human-rights-defenders

Azerbaijan: ICJ mission to assess independence of lawyers

June 24, 2016

The ICJ conducted a research mission to Azerbaijan on 20-23 June, to assess the situation of lawyers in the country, in light of concerns about recent criminal and disciplinary proceedings against lawyers.

During the mission the ICJ met with lawyers and legal experts to discuss the governance of the legal profession, including questions of access to the profession, the need for sufficient numbers of qualified lawyers to provide effective access to justice, and the role of the bar association in protecting lawyers against harassment or interference in their work.

In the course of the mission the ICJ met with several lawyers against whom disciplinary proceedings had been initiated, or who had faced criminal or other sanctions. Many of these lawyers have been prominent in bringing human rights cases before the national and international courts.

On 23 June, ICJ representatives observed a hearing in the case of lawyer Alaif Ghasanov before the Baku Administrative Economic Court no.1, in which he is challenging his disbarment.

The ICJ will publish a report of the mission with recommendations to address harassment of lawyers and for reform of the governance of the legal profession.

Azerbaijan: ICJ mission to assess independence of lawyers

Azerbaijan: UN statement on threats to the independence of lawyers

June 22, 2016

The ICJ today made an oral statement at the United Nations, on threats to the independence of lawyers in Azerbaijan.

In the statement to the Human Rights Council, the ICJ emphasised that lawyers in Azerbaijan face suspension or disbarment for statements clearly constituting protected freedom of expression. In some cases, they are subject to arrest, detention, unfair trial, and arbitrary imprisonment.

The lack of independence of the Bar Association is a serious concern. This body is increasingly initiating apparently groundless disciplinary proceedings, including leading to disbarment, against lawyers who defend the interests of clients in high profile or politically sensitive cases. Disciplinary penalties in such cases are routinely upheld by the judiciary, which does not appear to be fully independent.

This was highlighted in preliminary findings of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention following its recent visit (Working Group on Arbitrary Detention Statement upon the conclusion of its visit to Azerbaijan (16-25 May 2016)). Representatives of the ICJ are currently visiting Azerbaijan to further assess the situation.

The cases of Khalid Bagirov, Alaif Ghasanov and Intigam Aliyev illustrate these concerns. While welcoming the release of Mr Aliyev, we remain concerned at the maintenance of his underlying conviction despite credible reports that the charges against him were politically motivated.

Lawyer Muzaffar Bakhishov is currently subject to disbarment proceedings for having criticized the lack of independence of the judicial system.

Azerbaijan: UN statement on threats to the independence of lawyers